Monday, July 17, 2006

Mining for Gold

One of my most exciting recent acquisitions was a stack of old Art Director & Studio News magazines. Its from those magazines that last week's series of Cooper Studio ads came, and this week I'll be showing you a selection of art, ads and articles that help fill in some of the gaps in the history of illustration - and provide a window onto American culture in the mid-20th century as filtered through an ad industry lens.

I've really enjoyed pouring through these magazines, putting faces to the names of artists I've come across in other publications, and coming to understand how vast, sophisticated and competitive the business of illustration was half a century ago.

One interesting observation I can already make: AD&SN pushed highly stylized graphics on its covers and in its many articles on awards given out around the country. While magazines aimed at the general public were still deeply entrenched with the look of illustrative realism, art directors, when addressing their peers, were pushing boundaries of visual acceptability.

A happy result of their efforts is my finally being able to identify an artist who's work I'd admired - but whom I'd know only as "JA". His cover and interior ad art credit line identifies him as John Averill from Chicago. He did a long series of ads for 7-Up, a few of which you can see in my new John Averill Flickr set.


  1. Damn! That top piece is amazing!

  2. I couldn't agree more, chip!

  3. Yeah---not sure what kick-starts my day better; the cup of coffee in the morning or your image posts Leif!

    Thanks again for these---totally terrific of you to put this stuff out there AND on a consistent, daily basis....


  4. Dom, Zach - thanks for your encouraging words! :-)

  5. Leif - I hope you can help me with more info on John Averill. I have a series of 3 originals that I believe he must have showed as on the back of their frames they note position (1, 2, 3) and which wall (West, East, etc). They are wonderful, whimsical woodpeckers which I had to have when I found them at an antique shop. I'd love to correspond and learn more.

  6. 3 John Averill originals! How I envy you, candlepin jo. There isn't a whole lot of info on John Averill that I've been able to locate, but I do have a bit - and I promise to post it soon (maybe even this week).